Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

Published: 2015 Genre: YA post-apocalyptic speculative fiction Length: 416 pages Setting: mostly Babylon Revisited (former NYC), soon after the events of Steelheart Interest: It’s the second book in the Reckoners series, following Steelheart, that I saw in the new book section at my local library. Continue reading

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The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Published: 2006

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 134 pages

Setting: Hard Pan, California, present day

Interest: Again, I was looking for audio books for our trip to Gettysburg. I needed something shorter to listen to after we finished Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Since it had won a Newbery Award, I figured the book had a good chance of being enjoyable.

Summary: Lucky lives in Hard Pan, population 44 in the middle of the California desert. She’s constantly searching for her higher power, based on some things she’s overheard at the Anonymous meetings in town. Her mother died two years ago and since then, she’s been living with Brigitte. Brigitte is her father’s first wife and she’s French. Lucky is worried that Brigitte will get fed up and head back to France. Lucky’s friends are Miles, a five-year old cookie scrounger, Lincoln, a ten-year old expert knot tyer, and her dog, H.M.S. Beagle. Lucky decides to run away (during a dust storm) in order to keep Brigitte with her, but her plans go awry.

Final thoughts: This is a book all about Lucky and how she’s trying to make sense of her life. There’s not a lot of action, but there is humor and friendships and mistakes, but it all works out in the end (it is a middle grade book, after all). You totally get sucked into Lucky’s world. Even though there’s not a lot of amenities in Lucky’s world (she lives an hour from any store, and everyone in town lives on government subsidies), you never get the feeling that she’s missing out on life because of a lack of money. Instead, you see the strong relationships she has with the people in town and how resourceful everyone is. High quality book that I recommend. Even better, there’s two more books in the series.

Awards won: Newbery Award in 2007

Title comes from: Lucky was always searching for her “higher power”, but it wasn’t something she could find until she reached rock bottom. At least, that’s what she heard at all the Anonymous meetings she eavesdropped on.

Reading challenges fulfilled None, since this was an audio book.

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Tethered by Haris A. Durrani

AFF_July-Aug2013webPublished: Jul/Aug 2013 in Analog

Genre: science fiction

Length: 26 pages

Setting: earth orbit, near future

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: We follow Charlie and Kalima as they pilot a junkship to a Zombie satellite. Their job is to attach a Lorenz tether to the satellite so it will safely decelerate and burn up in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, all is not as they were told. The satellite isn’t a Zombie. The Chinese want to keep it in orbit. The tethers don’t actually do what they promise. Kalima sacrifices herself to keep the satellite in orbit, and Charlie ends up back on Earth. Interspersed with the action are bits on how Earth got to the point that they needed junkships in the first place.

Final thoughts: This story was written to answer the question “What happens if orbital space junk gets out of hand?” It was an interesting answer to the question, but I didn’t really care about Charlie and Kalima. They were supposed to be getting married soon, but I sensed very little connection between them. Kalima seemed like she had a death wish, and Charlie was clueless. Moral of the story – don’t let space become a battle zone and take care of the trash.

Title comes from: Perhaps the tether connecting the junkship to the satellite and Kalima to the junkship.


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Weekly Wrap-Up: The Tempest

This week was a busy one. I think we had somewhere to be outside of the house every day. Even so, we managed to get some schooling in and used a couple of new books. We’re still studying Shakespeare, but we’ve finished with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and have moved on to The Tempest (Mr. Curiosity’s choice). There’s a couple of choices to read summarized-for-children versions of Shakespeare. I’ve used both E. Nesbit’s Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers and Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare. Both are available free online from either the Kindle store or Gutenberg. They turn the play into a story that covers all the major plot points, but don’t use his language. My goal is to get the kids knowledgeable about what’s going on so they can follow along when we watch the play.

Since we’re reading The Tempest, I found a graphic take on the play. The Tempest (Graphic Shakespeare), adapted by Daniel Conner, isn’t as in-depth as the graphic novel we found for A Midsummer Night’s Dream but still puts a visual component to the reading. It also uses language closer to what Shakespeare used in his play. Next week we’ll watch the play.

One last Shakespeare book for the week – Top Ten Shakespeare Stories by Terry Deary. It’s written for a YA audience and provides a little background into ten of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, including elements the original audiences would have known that we’re less likely to catch. There’s also a summary of the plot of each of the play, told from the viewpoint of one of the main characters. It’s an interesting addition to our other books.

And those are the books we read this week, linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up.



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Beloved by Toni Morrison

Published: 1987

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 324 pages

Setting: the outskirts of Cincinnati, after the Civil War

Interest: It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner. I’m pretty sure I read it in college, but I figured it was worth reading again since it’s been so long and I don’t remember the book. Continue reading

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The Journal of Otto Peltonen by William Durbin

Subtitle: A Finnish Immigrant

Published: 2000

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

Length: 168 pages

Setting: mostly Hibbing, Minnesota from 1905-1907

Interest: I chose this for our American History Club meeting on child labor and women’s suffrage. We’ve enjoyed the last My Name is America book we read (The Journal Of Jesse Smoke, A Cherokee Boy which we read when we covered Native Americans last year) so I thought it would be worth reading another in that series. Continue reading

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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Published: 1955

Genre: YA biographical historical fiction

Length: 256 pages

Setting: Salem, late 1700s-early 1800s

Interest: I needed a long audio book for a trip to Gettysburg. Our local library doesn’t have too many long kids’ books, so this was one of the few choices I had. Continue reading

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